What's the Big Deal with Screen Time?
This has been on my mind for some time, so in true blogger fashion I decided to write about it. Every time screen time comes up parents rush to defend the amount of screen time their children get. Yet when most parents spend an insane amount of their day on a screen. I'll be the first to admit I am a TV junkie, it's what I do to unwind and relax. And not until I had already bought my daughter a kindle did I even know about the concept of no (or little) screen time for small children. I used to sit in playgroups or at playdates and listen to moms pat themselves on their backs about limiting their children's screen time. Silently shaming and judging other parents (me), for allowing their child any type of screen time. As a new mom there was nothing worse than thinking your doing something great for your child and realizing it's actually not.
Collectively, we are a TV family. It's the way my husband and I usually wind down in the evening. It's the way I made it through my second pregnancy with a toddler. I bought her an Amazon kindle, which I highly recommend, around her 1st birthday. It was supposed to be a helpful tool when traveling. She didn't really start using it until around 15 - 17 months, and she took to it like a fish to water. She taught herself how to download apps and books, take pictures, play games. While I was pregnant with my son, and exhaustion hit, the kindle was a lifesaver. And instantly I could see how much it helped not only me, but her also. We had been using our flash cards to learn the alphabet, but watching shows online reinforced what I was teaching. It became a helper in my greater goals. I saw her blossom as she used it. Of course, it was also helpful in keeping her entertained as I grocery shopped or ran other errands. I received a number of comments and disapproving looks, but that comes with parenting. You'll never it right all the time.
It's funny to me how we can justify our need for screens on a daily basis yet keep our children away from them. At my daughter's check-up appointment the doctor noted how she should not have more than 2 hours of screen time because it can inhibit her imagination. And not until recently did I know about the American Academy of Pediatrics suggestions on screen time, which was recently revised. They recommend no more than 2 hours, up from "no screen time" under 2. On average I spend WAY more than 2 hours on a screen. And while I haven't noticed any huge differences in my daughter's behavior or attitude with or without the screen, I am constantly worried about it. She's by no means attached to it, she'll turn it on and walk away to play with something else. She might have my weird need for background noise. Or maybe by letting her have free range I have taken the power of the screen away. My son, at 13 months, received his first tablet from his grandparents as a birthday gift. And at 17 months, he has taken little to no interest in it, and uses it merely as a toy to throw around at his leisure. And I am totally ok with that. If he never takes any interest in it, I'll be ok with that also.
It baffles me in world so dependent on screens, why it's so taboo for children to use them. When TVs started making their way into homes across America, the same fear was present. Have we not learned new doesn't mean dangerous? I could bore you with everything we watch and tell you how educational or informational the shows we watch are, but what good would that do? I'm not here to prove my parenting style or preference to anyone. There will always be differing opinions on new technology. Choosing what works best for you and your household is a must. I found this article over at MomsLovesBest.com. It's a more comprehensive guide on screen time on potential dangers and how to manage screen time. It's a helpful guide if you are deciding what's the best course of action for you and your family, but again I stress to each his own. Don't feel pressure to conform based on what is listed. I think knowing your child(ren) makes a big difference in screen time allotment. Creating a learning rich environment that helps my children thrive is always my goal. If screen time helps with that, great. If not, it's time to reevaluate. What is good for the goose is NOT always good for the gander.
Learn more about how screen time affects your children at Mom Loves Best